The post-50 appeal of CrossFit Sudbury
(January 2020)

For the longest time, Linda McCosham would present a clear distinction. Though one to keep fit from the time of her youth, growing up in Toronto, she had not necessarily been one for organized sport.

That would come much later. Yet there are clearly elements of both facets of her life that would not only eventually lead her to giving CrossFit training, and more specifically, the Vitality program at CrossFit Sudbury a shot, but would see her thrive in that environment.

By way of clarification, the Vitality program is a strength and conditioning program, designed for those over the age of 50, and is lead by a physiotherapist, with members enjoying the confidence of exercising while dealing with the presence of previous injuries or other limiting conditions.

First, let's return to the beginning.

Though she would dabble in some intramural sports along the way, McCosham attended Nelson A Boylen Collegiate Institute with other priorities in mind. "I was a choir geek, I was on the music side of things," said the now 67 year old, who can lay claim to completing no less than 16 half-marathon races.

"That's where I spent my after school time. I started going to the gym in my twenties, just to stay fit. I would go the gym, then maybe life would get in the way, but when I could get back, I would do it."

Throw in some time on the ski slopes with her children (Paul and Debbie), and one could see the development of a well-established fitness base, one which would be ramped up substantially as McCosham tackled her second half century on earth.

"I started running in my fifties," she said. "I was on my own and needed something to do. I was really just trying out running, just getting my bearings." This emphasis on cardio would quickly come in handy, as McCosham progressed from simply joining the Sudbury Canoe Club, to paddling with the competitive SCC Dragons dragonboat team, to cracking the national team roster (age group specific), in a matter of just a few years.

While her physical attributes certainly helped this rapid progression, so too did a keen attention to detail. "I would listen to my coach, and if he told me that this is how you want me to paddle, then that is exactly what I am going to do," she said.

Where some might contend that paddling success is simply a function of upper body strength, McCosham disagrees - forcefully. "The boat is not going to get very far if everyone is out of sync," she explained.

"Synchronicity is a big thing, right off the bat. You can have great big muscled guys in the middle of the boat (the "engine room"), but if they don't know how to put that paddle and pull water, then you're in trouble."

After appearing in a pair of World Dragonboat Championship events, McCosham was ready to pivot in a new direction. By then, she had partnered with SCC veteran Dan Welch, the tandem in search of another outlet that fit their athletic nature.

"We were going to another gym, and it was boring to me," recalled McCosham. "I saw a video on Facebook for CrossFit. The people looked like they were having fun, it was the type of exercises that I like to do, so I thought, why not join for a month."

"We went for a month and it's been more than two years now."

The appeal of the Vitality program at CrossFit Sudbury, for McCosham, comes in two primary forms. Beyond the social interactive aspect, the fact that "everybody is very positive, helpful and encouraging," in her words, comes the physical takeaways as she readies for her next decade, as a septuagenarian.

"We work on things that you don't work on very much anymore, like balance and going upside down," she said. "It's unbelievable how much your balance changes as you age, so we work on that, we work on felxibility, we work on agility, as well as all of the strength stuff that goes with it."

And that is more than just a little helpful, whether the end goal is general fitness, or organized sport.

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